How To Save Money Traveling In Europe

Published on 20/01/2012 in Holidays in Spain

Have you ever withdrawn money from an ATM at a Spanish bank and been asked whether you want to be charged in Pounds or Euros? This is a common practise at many banks which confuses tourists. Many select "Pounds" when forced to choose but this is in fact the wrong choice. Always choose Euros!

This is a terrible scam known as "dynamic currency exchange" which allows overseas retailers to get away with ripping off foreign credit card holders by using a terrible exchange rate. Selecting Euros as the charging currency means that you'll get the exchange rate used by your UK card issuer which will be a lot better.

And whilst we're on the subject, what card do you use to make these withdrawals from the ATM? It seems to be fairly common knowledge that using a credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM incurs a commission. However, few tourists seem to realise that they'll often be charged the same commission of around 2.5% for making cash withdrawals abroad with their debit card!

Euro notesTo add insult to injury most of the UK's biggest high street banks then add on an additional charge of around £1.50 every time you withdraw cash from an ATM abroad using your standard debit card. These banks include Halifax, Lloyds, NatWest, RBS and Santander. Using your debit card directly for purchases whilst abroad is another expensive mistake as such tranactions will incur the same "loading fee" of around 2.75% which applies to credit cards. You won't necessarily notice this fee as it's hidden within the exchange rate.

So what's the best way to minimize these hidden charges? The best soultion is to get yourself a Euro Currency Card which you load up before travelling then use abroad.

These cards help you avoid unnecessary charges and offer some of the best exchange rates around. Specialist companies such as Fairfx and Caxton offer better terms on their currency cards than the likes of Thomas Cook who tend to offer a worse exchange rate when loading up your card.

Thanks to my many years of working online with I've learned that the internet is a minefield when it comes to finding the best travel deals. I've now put together an EBook full of travel related advice which will save you money when visiting Europe from the UK.  You can find out more information about my ebook here.

Not only will it help you save money it will also save you valuable time by directing you to key travel websites where the best offers can be found.

Written by: Gerry Kerkhof

About the author:

I run the successful travel website, and recently launched my new ebook, Europe Travel Saver, to help people save money when traveling around Europe.

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Joe said:
13 February 2012 @ 16:27

The best tip on saving money when traveling through Europe is Don't Buy A Book about it! When all the info you could possibly need is right there at your finger tips!

danielca said:
23 January 2012 @ 10:57

It should say:

danielca said:
23 January 2012 @ 10:54

I have tried pre-paid currency cards and a number of other devices to minimise transaction fees and poor exchange rates.
I have reached the conclusion that the best solution is :
1.For withdrawing cash from ATMs.I have a Santander account in pounds sterling and use the debit card that is provided to withdraw euros from Santander ATMs in Spain.But only use Santander ATMs and when offered the choice between pounds and euros on the screen ALWAYS choose pounds!!
2. For credit card purchases I always use a British pound sterling Halifax credit card as unlike other cards there is noforeign exchange fee. I always pay the whole balance monthly by direct debit to avoid interst payments.

PGM said:
23 January 2012 @ 10:47

I think its important if giving out advise you check you information is up to date, some of the advice on the best way of spending whilst in another country is in a number of areas different to the advice given by other money experts such as the afore mentioned other similar on line advisers
I would suggest that information people get is gained from a reliable source that is continually updated as the banks keep changing the way they operate.
I make no criticism of the article as I am sure when written was the best option the writer considered on the day, but think it’s important to make sure information isn’t given in an over generalised and can be continually updated.

Gerry said:
23 January 2012 @ 10:05

Thanks for your comments above. However, please note that this is merely a 'snippet' of the actual EBook which is packed with useful tips for getting the best deals on all aspects of travel in Europe. It is particularly geared towards UK residents who are booking online through UK websites.

Gareth said:
23 January 2012 @ 09:36

Some good points in the article but, as pedrod above says, it's completely wrong to rule out all credit cards for spending abroad and withdrawing cash. I've had a Santander Zero card for years and this allows me to draw out euros from Spanish ATM's with no commission or loading charges at all and I always get the best possible exchange rate - even better rate than currecny conversion specilialists like MoneyCorp etc are able to give me for exchanging large amounts of cash.

I'd suggest anyone looking for advice on this matter, and up-to-date advice on best cards to use, goes to That site is run my Martin Lewis and always gives the best advice on all money related matters.

Simon said:
23 January 2012 @ 09:32

I have a lloyds international currency account and i service this by converting GBP to EUROs from my Lloyds account (fee free) and a very very competative exchange rate (less then 1% from the interbank rate). There are no charges when using the debit card on the currency account in shops hotels restaurants or cash machines in europe.

pedrod said:
22 January 2012 @ 19:05

You have missed two important alternatives for the most economical way of withdrawing cash in Spain.
1. You mention Santander as expensive but if you bank with Santander in UK, cash withdrawals with a Santander debit card from Santander ATMs in Spain are completely commission free and calculated at the prevailing VISA rate for the day.
2. Norwich and Peterborough BS debit cards are commission free throughout the world.

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